Pulau Payar is a Malaysian Fisheries reserve and numbers of visitors to the island are strictly controlled. There are no resorts on the island and visitors have to stay in Penang or Langkawi and come to Payar by speedboat to dive and snorkel. The fish around Payar are reputed to be friendly, and will feed off your hand, although I haven't had the opportunity to observe this first hand.
A bit about my diving experience now :
I got my Open Water certification on the 21st March 1993 and Advanced Open Water the following month on the 17th April 1993 ! Both certifications were from PADI.
Unfortunately I don't get to dive as often as I would like. So far I've been only to islands in Malaysian waters.
These are listed in order of my personal preference:
Pulau Sipadan. Located off the eastern coast of the East Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo, Sipadan is arguably one of the top 10 dive spots in the World. I did 13 dives here over a period of 4 days.
Pulau Perhentian. Located off the coast of the Peninsular Malaysian state of Terengganu. I did 6 dives here over a period of 3 days.
Pulau Redang. Also located off the coast of Terengganu. I did the 5 dives of my Advanced Open Water certification here and my first 2 pleasure dives !
Pulau Kapas. Located ...where else ! I did the 4 dives of my Open Water certification here.
Here are two accounts of dive trips to Sipadan. One by myself on my trip there in June 1994 and one by my friend and buddy (during my trip to Perhentian), Dominic Lim.
My trip, early June 1994
Dominic's trip to Mabul and Sipadan, End May 1996
This is an account of my one and only trip to Redang for my Advanced Open Water Certification.
I was here for my Open Water certification dives from the 20 to 21st March 1993. We stayed at the Makcik Gemuk Resort and dived about 100m off the beach. All our dives were therefore shore dives.....swimming 100m back to shore after the dives and dragging ourselves out of the water after that was probably the hardest part of the certification ! Oh, yeah, I remember having to do my emergency swimming ascent twice 8-).
Water conditions were pretty bad with a lot of suspended particles reducing visibility to 20ft or less. On top of that we had 10 beginning divers hitting the bottom and churning up the silt, further reducing visibility to about 2 inches ! Needless to say, it was difficult seeing the instructor and it left us wondering what he wanted us to do next. The sea floor was flat sandy areas with silt on top with out many fish or corals. We did see a baby moray eel hiding in an isolated lump of coral about the size of a basketball. Water temperature was warm, about 30 degrees celsius.
The Resort was not really good. The room we got was ok if a bit dim. Mosquitoes were a major problem too. Food was not good and not exactly clean either and I got...er...the runs.
Overall, Kapas is a disappointment, give it a miss.
The only good thing to come out of Kapas was my Open Water Certification ! Here is the only picture of me on this entire web site :), complete with temporary C Card on my forehead and an admiring onlooker :)
Here is our dive instructor, Tony Hiew, signing the all important certification forms.
From left to right: Keam, Siow Yin (blocked by Keam), (friend from Japan), Vic Cruz, CC Wong (my buddy, standing), Mr & Mrs Low (standing), (3 people sitting whose names I have forgotten), Tony Hiew (with black PADI SCUBA Instructor cap), (2 more people whose names I have forgotten).
My apologies to those whom I have forgotten, if you see yourself, remind me :)
Webdive. One of the most comprehensive diving web pages. Photos, software, articles and a very well organised collection of links.
SCUBA is the acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. SCUBA was invented by none other than Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The world of diving suffered a great loss on the 25th June 1997 when he left this world to continue diving in the great oceans of heaven.
Malaysia consists of two land masses called Peninsular (or west, now defunct) Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia is slightly North of the Equator and has Thailand to the North and Singapore to the South. East Malaysia in the northern part of the Island of Borneo in the South China Sea. Malay is the official language but most Malaysians can speak/understand English. The climate in Malaysia is Tropical with temperatures averaging 28-32 degrees celsius all year round. Humidity is high at an average of 80 percent. Diving on the east coast is limited to the months of March to October due to the Monsoon with the best times being June to July.
Pulau is the Malay word for island. Malay, officially called Bahasa Malaysia, is the primary language of Malaysia.
Pollution is a major problem in the Straits of Malacca.
The Strait, being a long narrow body of water with its only openings to the north and south, so pollution tends to stay put.
Besides wastes entering the Straits from the land masses on either side, it is common practice by passing
ships to de-sludge in these waters just before arriving at the port in Singapore on the southern end of Malaysia.
Malaysia is actively prosecuting these offenders with limited success.
Someday, perhaps, we should start sinking these ships (after cleaning them out of course !) to make artificial reefs as
compensation of the damage caused to the environment :-).
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